What is Trucking Logistics? (The Whole Concept in One Guide)

keyKey Takeaways:
  • Trucking logistics involves the strategic planning and execution of truck transportation, including route optimization, fleet management, and shipment tracking, which is crucial for efficient supply chain operations.
  • Trucking logistics companies provide a suite of services, such as transportation management, warehouse coordination, freight brokerage, and shipment tracking, to streamline the movement of goods and ensure timely delivery.
  • Choosing the right logistics partner involves considering factors like experience, technology, customer service, and scalability to optimize supply chain operations.

Every time you order a package online or pick up groceries from the store, you see trucking logistics in action. 

The global supply chain relies heavily on the trucking industry to transport freight across provinces, countries, and continents. 

In the United States alone, the trucking industry is responsible for moving approximately 72.6% of all freight by weight, underscoring its significance in the nation’s economy.

But getting products from point A to point B is no easy feat. It requires careful coordination, route planning, and inventory management for timely deliveries and to make logistics operations cost-effective. 

That’s where trucking logistics comes in.

At its core, trucking logistics is the strategic planning and execution of truck storage, transport, and flow of goods.

So, in this blog, we’ll provide an in-depth look at key aspects of trucking logistics, including a detailed understanding of trucking logistics companies and how to choose one for your business.

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What is Trucking Logistics?

Trucking logistics refers to the planning, organization, and implementation of transportation operations for the trucking industry. It involves managing and coordinating the shipment of goods via trucks and oversight of the entire supply chain process.

How Does Trucking Logistics Work?

Trucking logistics work like this:

  1. Order and inventory: Customers place orders, and the logistics team ensures the items are in stock.
  2. Load and route: They plan how to load trucks efficiently and map the best routes to save time and fuel.
  3. Tracking and delivery: Trucks are tracked in real time, ensuring goods are delivered on schedule.
  4. Analysis and improvement: After delivery, they analyze performance to find ways to do things better next time.

This process ensures the smooth, cost-effective, and reliable delivery of goods.

What Tasks Does Trucking Logistics Involve?

Logistics trucking is essentially the planning and management of everything involved in getting goods transported by truck. This can include a whole range of activities, from the very beginning (when a shipment is first booked) to the very end (when the goods are delivered to the final destination).

Here’s a breakdown of what tasks trucking logistics typically involves:

  • Route planning: This involves figuring out the most efficient route for the truck to take by optimizing for factors like traffic, weather, time, distance, fuel costs, and tolls. Advanced routing software, like Upper, can help automate optimal route creation.
  • Fleet management: Managing a fleet of trucks, drivers, and cargo to coordinate the transportation of goods. This includes tracking location, load assignment, and driver schedules.
  • Warehouse management: Coordinating inventory flow in and out of warehouses to ensure goods are received, stored, and shipped efficiently via dedicated truck routes.
  • Order fulfillment: Managing order information and ensuring customer delivery requirements are met through proper truckload planning, routing, and scheduling.
  • Carrier sourcing: Identifying, vetting, and contracting with trucking carriers to provide transportation services for shipments.
  • Freight brokerage: Acting as an intermediary to arrange transportation of freight between shippers and carriers.
  • Shipment tracking: Monitoring the real-time status and location of truck shipments using GPS, ELDs, and other technology.
  • Delivery optimization: Utilizing techniques like load consolidation to maximize delivery efficiency and reduce costs.
  • Documentation and compliance: There’s a lot of paperwork involved in shipping goods, and the logistics trucking services providers make sure that all the necessary documentation is in order and that all shipments comply with relevant regulations.

Performance monitoring: Collecting transportation data to identify areas for improvement in delivery times, costs, and efficiency.

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Upper offers advanced route optimization, real-time tracking, load planning, and performance analytics for efficient logistics planning and improved delivery times.

The primary goal of logistics trucking is to ensure timely, efficient, and cost-effective delivery of products through prudent coordination of assets, resources, partners, and transportation activities.

7 Types of Truck Loads in Trucking Logistics

When it comes to transporting products by truck, companies have several options depending on their specific shipping needs.

Here are the 7 types of truck loads in trucking logistics:

Types of Truck Loads and Shipping Methods in Trucking Logistics

1. Full Truck Load (FTL)

FTL shipping is ideal when you have a large quantity of goods to transport that can fill an entire 53-foot trailer truck. This method ensures that your single shipment receives dedicated attention and can result in faster transit times compared to other options.

FTL allows direct transport without loading/unloading at warehouses along the way; hence, the labor cost is lower.

2. Less than Truckload (LTL)

Less than truckload (LTL) freight shipping combines smaller shipments from multiple customers into a single truck. Each customer pays for the space their goods occupy rather than the entire truck, making it a cost-effective option for smaller shipments.

3. Partial Truckload (PT)

Partial Truckload shipping strikes a balance between TL and LTL. It’s perfect for shipments larger than LTL but not enough to fill an entire truck, generally occupying 10-26 pallet spaces on a truck. 

PT offers the benefits of faster transit times and reduced handling associated with TL without the need for a full truck. Shipping costs are usually based on weight and distance.

4. Expedited shipping

Need your goods delivered urgently? Expedited shipping is the solution. 

While it may incur higher costs, expedited shipping ensures your goods reach their destination quickly, making it ideal for time-sensitive shipments.

5. Refrigerated trucking

When transporting temperature-sensitive goods like perishable foods or pharmaceuticals, refrigerated trucking is essential. 

Reefer trucks are equipped with temperature control to maintain the desired temperature throughout transit, ensuring the freshness and integrity of the goods.

6. Flatbed shipping

Flatbed shipping is used for oversized load or irregularly shaped cargo that cannot fit into standard enclosed trucks and requires open air. 

Flatbed shipping is commonly used for transporting construction materials, machinery, or large equipment. It offers versatility and ease of loading and unloading.

7. Air ride truckload

Air ride truckload provides a smoother transportation experience for fragile or sensitive cargo, reducing the risk of damage during transit compared to standard truckloads.

Equipped with air suspension systems, air ride trucks absorb shocks and vibrations, ensuring the safe and secure transport of delicate goods.

What are Truck Logistics Companies?

Trucking logistics companies are businesses that specialize in managing the movement of goods via trucks. They handle tasks like planning routes, coordinating shipments, and ensuring product deliveries in a timely manner.

These transportation companies typically work with manufacturers, retailers, and distributors to transport goods efficiently and cost-effectively. Some trucking companies also offer additional services such as warehousing, inventory management, and supply chain optimization.

5 Main Types of Truck Logistics Companies

There are various types of logistics companies, each offering different services to meet the needs of their clients.

Here are the five main types of trucking logistics companies:

  1. Freight brokers: Freight brokers tend to work as intermediaries between shippers (those who need goods transported) and carriers (trucking companies). They help match shippers with carriers for a fee but do not own any trucks or warehouses themselves.
  2. Third-party logistics providers (3PLs): 3PLs offer various logistics services, including transportation, warehousing, inventory management, and supply chain optimization. They often have their own warehouses, staff, and truck fleet. They even use 3PL software to automate their processes and partner with other carriers to fulfill their clients’ needs.
  3. Fourth-party logistics providers (4PLs): 4PLs take logistics management one step further by overseeing the entire supply chain on behalf of their clients. They coordinate multiple 3PLs and other service providers to ensure seamless logistics operations.
  4. Carriers: Carriers are trucking companies that own and operate trucks for transporting goods. They may work directly with shippers or subcontract their services through a freight broker or 3PL.
  5. Dedicated contract carriers: Dedicated contract carriers provide transportation services exclusively to one client under a long-term contract. They operate trucks dedicated solely to that client’s shipments, offering customized solutions tailored to their specific needs.

Each type serves a different role for companies looking to outsource or supplement their logistics operations. You should look for providers with extensive transportation experience, vast carrier networks, competitive rates, and excellent customer service.

How do Logistics Companies Help with Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management comprises the strategies and processes involved in developing a product and fulfilling consumer demand. It includes sourcing materials, manufacturing, inventory management, order processing, and transportation.

When companies provide logistics services, they become involved in the supply chain management process through their transportation and warehousing services.

Here’s an overview of how logistics companies help with supply chain management:

Want to Know How Logistics Companies Manage Transporation?

Logistics companies usually use route planning software, like Upper, to plan and optimize routes, schedule deliveries, track trucks’ locations, and review performance analytics.

  • Warehouse management: Providing storage space for inventory, materials, and finished products. They handle receiving, picking, packing, and shipping from warehouses.
  • Inventory management: Overseeing inventory levels and optimizing stock levels to meet demand while minimizing holding costs and avoiding stockouts.
  • Order fulfillment: Receiving customer orders, picking or packing requested items from warehouse inventory, and preparing shipments.
  • Reverse logistics: Reverse logistics includes managing the return process when customers send items back, including transportation, inspection, and processing.
  • Reporting & metrics: Supplying data and KPIs on the logistics process, inventory levels, shipping times, costs, and other relevant metrics to evaluate and refine the processes.

While logistics services companies don’t oversee the entire supply chain, their warehousing, transportation, and inventory management services help businesses optimize key fulfillment processes.

Their contributions facilitate the smooth, timely flow of products to meet customer demand.

How to Choose a Trucking Logistics Company

Choosing the right truck logistics company is crucial when you aim to streamline their supply chain operations and ensure efficient transportation of goods. 

Here are 7 key considerations to keep in mind when choosing a trucking logistics company:

  1. Partner with a company that has a proven track record in the industry.
  2. Check reviews and performance history for on-time deliveries and dependable service.
  3. Ensure they offer the services you need, from shipping to warehousing and specialized transport.
  4. Look for partners using advanced tech like GPS tracking and route optimization.
  5. Choose a responsive partner with 24/7 support and timely updates.
  6. Prioritize value and long-term benefits over low cost alone.
  7. Partner with a company that can grow and adapt to your business needs.

What Pain Points Do Trucking Logistics Companies Commonly Face?

Truck logistics companies often face the following pain points:

  • Driver shortages and turnover rates are common challenges.
  • Fluctuating fuel prices can significantly impact operating costs in the trucking industry.
  • Adhering to complex transportation regulations poses challenges for companies.
  • Maintaining and repairing trucks and trailers is a costly aspect of truck logistics.
  • Efficient route planning and optimization are crucial for minimizing fuel usage and delivery times.
  • Balancing capacity and demand, especially during peak seasons, can be difficult for trucking companies.
  • Meeting customer expectations for on-time deliveries and communication is a constant challenge.
  • Integrating new technologies, such as GPS tracking, can be complex and require training.
  • External factors like weather, traffic, and supply chain disruptions can disrupt logistics operations.

Try Leveraging Technology for Improved Logistics Operations

Trucking logistics play a critical role in ensuring the smooth flow of goods and streamlining operations to maximize efficiency and minimize costs for businesses.

Understanding the types of truck loads, the role of a logistic trucking company, and key considerations in choosing a partner are essential for optimizing logistics operations.

As you navigate the complexities of truck logistics, consider working with the right partner and using route planning software like Upper. 

Upper uses algorithms to create efficient delivery routes, considering factors like traffic, time windows, priority deliveries, and other time and distance-based constraints. This allows you to shorten routes, decrease fuel expenses, and improve driver safety.

In addition to this, Upper also provides:

Want to experience the benefits firsthand?

Northern Express Logistics: Transforming Last-Mile Deliveries with Upper

Northern Express Logistics improved their logistics operations by implementing Upper. Facing challenges in manual route planning and lack of real-time visibility, they turned to Upper for solutions.

The Challenge:

Manual route planning led to longer delivery times and increased fuel costs. The lack of real-time visibility caused inefficiencies in scheduling and resource allocation.

The Solution:

Northern Express Logistics adopted Upper for automated route planning, live tracking, and route optimization, which streamlined its operations and improved communication.

Key Features Utilized:

  1. Automated Route Manifest Management
  2. Real-Time Live Tracking
  3. Efficient Route Optimization

The Impact:

With Upper, Northern Express Logistics reduced manual intervention by 92%, improved driver productivity, and enhanced communication.

They achieved significant efficiency improvements in last-mile delivery logistics:

  1. Route planning optimizing time: Reduced from over 400 hours to less than 70 hours
  2. Real-time updates & communication: Increased from 35% to 95%
  3. Time-saving: Improved from 55% to 92%

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Frequently Asked Questions

To start a trucking logistics business, first create a solid business plan outlining your goals, target market, and financial projections. Then, you need to get proper licensing and permits, purchase or lease trucks and equipment, hire qualified drivers and staff, find warehouse space, implement logistics management software, and obtain necessary operating insurance.

Some benefits of using a trucking logistics company include access to an established carrier network, cost savings through aggregated shipping rates, supply chain expertise, management of regulations and compliance, and optimized routes.

Trucking logistics companies use advanced route planning software, like Upper, that analyzes traffic, delivery time windows, priorities, service times, and other time and distance-based constraints to determine the most cost and time-efficient routes possible.

A trucking and logistics company utilizes various technologies to improve efficiency, including route optimization software, GPS tracking systems, electronic logging devices (ELDs), and warehouse management systems (WMS).

Trucking is called logistics because it’s part of the broader field of logistics, which involves managing the flow of goods from where they’re made to where they’re needed. Trucking specifically focuses on transporting goods by trucks, which is a key aspect of logistics.

The cost of starting a trucking logistics company can range from $100,000-$200,000 minimum due to truck costs. However, the cost can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the operation, the number of trucks and equipment needed, licensing and permit costs, and initial marketing expenses.

Trucking refers specifically to the transportation of goods by trucks. At the same time, logistics involves a broader range of activities involved in managing the flow of goods and services, including transportation, inventory management, warehousing, order fulfillment, and supply chain optimization.

In trucking, logistics refers to the strategic planning and coordination of truck transportation of goods. This includes route planning, load optimization, tracking, scheduling, and overall management of trucking operations to ensure efficient and timely deliveries.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.